I’ve been getting some really sweet and tasty cantaloupe recently at farmer’s markets and my local grocery store, so hubby and I have been enjoying the heck out of it.
To me, cantaloupe’s beautiful sherbet color just screams of something refreshing and it’s especially good when chilled and enjoyed on a hot day in southwest Florida. Not only is it pretty, but it’s also packed with vitamins A and C, as well as, potassium, so it’s great for hydration, too.
As you know, this week we celebrated Labor Day. I knew weeks in advance that a BBQ with friends was on my calendar, and I had promised to bring a salad. Unfortunately, when the time came to prep my salad, I had no idea where to start. I stood in front of the refrigerator for about several minutes with NO ideas (shame on me. . .and no, I don’t own stock in the electric company) and I was certainly not eager to drop everything and head to the supermarket. Then I remembered the cantaloupe! With my new-found inspiration, I started thinking about flavor combos using what I had and it wasn’t long before I figured out my plan – a green salad topped with cantaloupe, cucumber, red onion, toasted nuts, cilantro and bacon, along with a light citrus dressing to enhance the sweetness of the cantaloupe. It was a particularly tasty combo – refreshing, cool and crunchy, with a little bit of salty bacon for pizzazz. And while I didn’t have any on hand, I think it would have been even better with a crumbling of salty feta.
So, what’s the moral of the story? There are several, actually:
1) Don’t wait until the last minute to make your salad!
2) Bacon definitely makes everything better.
3) It’s good to keep a variety of whole foods on hand so you can easily pull a dish together at the last minute.
4) A smart cook always has bacon in the freezer.
5) If you don’t have bacon, use pancetta.
6) If you don’t have pancetta, use prosciutto.
7) Don’t leave crispy bacon on the kitchen counter, since your spouse will keep nibbling on it when walking by.
8) Consider incorporating ingredients you might not typically use in your dishes. While sometimes these experiments don’t work (as evidenced by my recent inclusion of anchovy paste with strawberries in a salad), it’s still worth a try!
9) Even if your dish turns out to be “not great” you can always just eat the bacon 🙂
- 4 strips bacon
- 1 c. cantaloupe, small chunks
- ½ c. pecans or walnuts, toasted & chopped
- ¼ c. red onion, thinly sliced
- Handful fresh cilantro leaves
- 3-4 c. greens (romaine, baby spinach, arugula - whatever you have)
- Handful of fresh feta cheese (optional)
- ¼ c. fresh orange juice
- 1 Tb. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. honey
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tb. olive oil
- 1 Tb. lowfat plain yogurt (add more if you'd like a thicker dressing)
- In a small bowl, combine juices, honey, salt & pepper then whisk in the olive oil. When combined, whisk in the yogurt. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.
- Place the bacon strips in a non-stick skillet and cook until crispy. Transfer to paper towel and crumble into small pieces when cool. Set aside until ready to use.
- Prepare the nuts, melon and onion. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use (do not assemble until ready to serve, as the greens will become soggy). Add in cilantro leaves before dressing salad.